Thursday, June 21

Bruins strike double win during weekend matchups

Sophomore pitcher Grant Watson picked up the win in Sunday’s 6-1 victory over USC with a single run and three hits over seven innings.

Sophomore pitcher Grant Watson picked up the win in Sunday’s 6-1 victory over USC with a single run and three hits over seven innings. Yin Fu / Daily Bruin

USC: 1

Three different teams in three days showed three different sides of UCLA baseball.

One game was a close battle to the finish, one showed what happened when the Bruins just couldn’t get a handle on the other team’s pitching and the final day showed what they could do when every part of the game was in sync.

The weekend resulted in two wins, one in extras over Notre Dame (10-3) and one over USC (7-8). The Bruins lost on Saturday against Oklahoma (12-4).

Saturday was a matchup of top-25 teams, with No. 12 UCLA and No. 17 Oklahoma facing off in the afternoon at Jackie Robinson. Both teams came in strong but the Sooners were lights-out on the mound, with junior right-hander Jonathan Gray making it impossible for the Bruins to get anything real started on offense. They fell 4-0 in the matchup.

“Give credit where credit’s due. … It wasn’t rare back and let it go and not pitch. It was pitching,” coach John Savage said. “I was impressed, it was by far the best pitching we’ve faced all year.”

The Bruins struggled on offense in each of the first two games, but they were very different matchups: While Friday was marked by missed opportunities, the pitching from Oklahoma on Saturday was impossible to do anything with.

UCLA’s pitching was nearly as strong, limiting Notre Dame to one run on Friday. On Saturday, junior pitcher Nick Vander Tuig held it together for most of the game, but allowed a three-run homer that Savage said was “the difference in the game.”

On Sunday against USC, though, it was another story, as the offense shook off its troubles from the past two days.

Behind sophomore lefty pitcher Grant Watson, who surrendered just three hits and one run in seven innings of work, UCLA easily beat USC, 6-1.

“I wasn’t able to strike out that many guys, but our defense was working well behind me,” Watson said. “I made some mistakes and they picked me up and then when they make mistakes I picked them up.”

Watson’s only mistake on the day was a home run to Vahn Bozoian in the top of the sixth inning, but the Bruins responded quickly in the bottom half of the frame with a three-run double off the bat of sophomore infielder Kevin Kramer to give UCLA a 4-1 lead.

The win gave UCLA a 2-1 record on the weekend as it approaches conference play next Friday.

“We’re feeling confident coming out of this weekend,” Kramer said. “We grinded out two wins so that was important for us. Going into conference play, we just have to focus on playing our game and getting better every practice and every game.”

UCLA will face Cal State Northridge on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Northridge.

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